HC Deb 13 February 1986 vol 91 cc1090-1
14. Mr. Robert B. Jones

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the average monthly rate of inflation from June 1983 to date; and how it compares with that from May 1979 to June 1983 and October 1974 to May 1979, respectively.

Mr. Brooke

Between June 1983 and December 1985 the annualised increase in the retail prices index was 5.1 per cent. This compares with 11.3 per cent. between May 1979 and June 1983, and 15.1 per cent. between October 1974 and May 1979.

Mr. Jones

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the progress that he has just enunciated. Since the inflation rates in West Germany, the United States and Japan remain lower than ours, is it not the case that we need to keep up the pressure on bringing down inflation to be able to earn our jobs and our profits from trade abroad?

Mr. Brooke

I will pass on my hon. Friend's congratulations to my right hon. Friend. It is very much my right hon. Friend's policy that we should maintain continued downward pressure on inflation.

Mr. Flannery

Is it not a fact that the greater the number of people who are sacked the more inflation is held steady? The real barometer should be the number of people in the country who are unemployed. The number of people who are on YTS and similar schemes in order to keep young people off the unemployed list proves that there are at least 4 million people unemployed in the country. It does not give much comfort to those people to tell them that the inflation rate is being kept steady.

Mr. Brooke

The hon. Member's economic theory is a little complex, but the Government share his concern to seek to bring down the level of unemployment.

Mr. Forth

Does my hon. Friend agree that the marked disparity in the inflation figures between the period of this Government and the period when the Opposition were last in power demonstrates conclusively that any return to the sort of policies advocated by the Opposition will almost certainly lead to a trebling of inflation rates?

Mr. Brooke

The lowest inflation rate achieved by the Labour Government between 1974 and 1979 was above the highest rate since the last election. The Opposition pay lip-service to the idea of suppressing inflation, but the policies they espouse in opposition and the actions they take when they are periodically in government lead ineluctably to the debauching of the currency.

Mr. Penhaligon

Will the Minister name those of our major industrial competitors that currently have a higher level of inflation than us?

Mr. Brooke

I acknowledge that there are competitor countries that have a lower rate of inflation. That is why we are maintaining our pressure on inflation.